New York Performance
Northgate band marches in St. Patrick’s Day Parade
by Celia Shortt
Northgate High School’s Marching Vikings band celebrated St. Patrick’s Day 2014 in a memorable way, marching in New York City’s parade Monday.
“The parade went great and the kids were great,” said Alan Armstrong, band director for Northgate High School who accompanied the marching band on the trip along with about 20 parents and band leaders.
Armstrong said The Vikings played a medley of Irish tunes “with a little touch of ‘New York, New York’ thrown in for good measure specifically for this parade.” “As a principal, I’m proud for our band to represent us in the St. Patrick’s Day parade,” said Northgate Principal Bill Harrison. “As always, they represent us well, and I’m proud to be a Viking.”
The weather in New York was little more intense this year than most, especially after being in Georgia. “They told us last night that it broke the record for the coldest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in NYC history,” said Armstrong, with temperatures in the 20s and wind chills into the teens during the festival. “We prepared them for the cold weather, and they really came through. Trying to get the instruments in tune in that kind of weather was a special kind of challenge, but we got pretty close.” Northgate’s band was one of more than 100 who participated in the 2014 parade. The other bands were from all over the world.
While the parade was the highlight and reason for being in New York, the students and chaperones were able to see some of the city.
“One of the most memorable parts of the trip for all the kids and parents was the trip to the 9-11 memorial,” said Armstrong. “For our staff and chaperones, at times it was pretty overwhelming as they were old enough to remember those dark days. For them to see the site and the memorials was very special and deeply moving.” Coweta County’s high school band programs rotate their participation in large exhibitions like Northgate’s St. Patrick’s Day march, to allow one band at a time to pursue fundraising for the trips, said Dean Jackson, public information officer for the Coweta County School System.
This year’s visit to New York City was only the fifth such trip in the marching band’s history.
Marching band students have been raising funds for the last year to prepare for the trip, as well as practicing their parade routine.
“We had scheduled seven rehearsals for the parade, but due to school closings with weather issues, we got less than half of those rehearsals in,” said Armstrong. “We talked to the kids before we left about putting in extra time learning the music and routines on their own, outside of the practice time already scheduled.”
“They did a fantastic job taking on that responsibility,” said Armstrong on Tuesday. “They looked and sounded wonderful yesterday.”
According to the Associated Press, New York’s city parade is the largest celebrating Irish heritage. It kicked off Monday morning on Fifth Avenue, in cold and gray weather after a weekend of festivities.
The parade usually draws more than 1 million spectators and 200,000 participants every St. Patrick’s Day. It has also been a longtime mandatory stop on the city’s political trail, and includes marching bands, traditional Irish dancers and thousands of uniformed city workers.